Rangana Herath's magical spell propelled Sri Lanka to the semis © Getty Images
Rangana Herath’s magical spell propelled Sri Lanka to the semis © Getty Images

 

It was a bizarre day at Chittagong where both victorious teams felt they were 15-20 runs short. Abhijit Banare looks at the similarities and other highlights of the England vs Netherlands and New Zealand vs Sri Lanka match.

 

When Netherlands posted 133 against England in the first match of the day, not many were surprised. The Dutch side wasn’t expected to run away with the game scoring 180 plus. But at the end of the day, 133 turned out to be the highest among the four teams that played on the same pitch at Chittagong. If the shock win by the Dutch side wasn’t enough, Sri Lanka humiliated the Kiwis bundling them out for 60.

 

Everyone was fooled by the pitch

 

There were many similarities and some different aspects in each of the two matches on Sunday. The biggest error was that all four teams failed to understand the nature of the pitch. After completing their respective first innings, the players from both teams felt that they were at least 15-20 runs short. And both teams chasing looked confident to knock off the runs easily. It was one of those sluggish wickets where the batsmen should be content rotating the strike rather than packing enormous power behind the strokes.

 

Was it really a spin-friendly track?

 

After that magical spell from Rangana Herath, it seemed as though teams with quality spinners are naturally at an advantage. That’s only because most of the matches, especially the ones in Dhaka have been spin-friendly and the spinners have picked lot of wickets. At Chittagong on Saturday, if you keep aside that Herath spell, the pacers dominated for most part of the game. The Dutch side deliberately bowled slower so that it was tough to hit even when packed with enormous power. New Zealand learnt the trick soon and kept Sri Lanka tied down.

 

Two batsmen who batted sensibly

 

Kane Williamson scored more than 70% of New Zealand's runs © Getty Images
Kane Williamson has scored more than 70 percentage of New Zealand’s runs © Getty Images

 

Kane Williamson and Wesley Barresi were the only two batsmen who stood out in the 36 wickets that fell in the day. Both these batsmen were happy placing the ball around for singles. Williamson, in particular, looked solid against spin while Herath was making the batsmen dance to his tunes. Not only was he facing them comfortably, he was also scoring runs at will taking New Zealand ahead.

 

Pressure fetching wickets

 

After the bowlers created the pressure early and pressed on the advantage, the rest of the batsmen to follow had no choice but to throw their bat around. Williamson, Ravi Bopara, Mahela Jayawardene, all of them could have guided their team ahead, but the pressure to score quickly got to them. Many others too conceded their wickets easily. And one of the reasons was the misreading of the pitch as mentioned earlier. Most of them (batting first) tried to score briskly thinking their total was too low, while those chasing didn’t have much choice but to attack after the initial flurry of wickets.

 

The Stuart Broad embarrassment at the toss

 

The last thing Stuart Broad would have preferred to be reminded is of that embarrassing missed run-out chance against Netherlands in the 2009 World T20. Nasser Hussain reminded him at the toss and Broad had a slight grin on his face. Both knew that it could still be a possibility but England was a good side to be foxed by the Dutch. In the end, England surrounded themselves with over-confidence and became too complacent in the chase.

 

Rangana Herath’s spell

 

The last time Herath ever played a T20I for Sri Lanka was in 2012 against Pakistan at Pallekele. And even back then, it was a must-win encounter for the Lankans. Herath has showed that it’s quality that matters over customised skills of T20. Unlike the other spinners in the tournament, Herath doesn’t have the ‘doosra’ nor any mystery delivery. It was all about pitching it right and reading the batsman’s mind well. Be beating the swift-footed Brendon McCullum or bullying Ross Taylor to defend frequently, Herath’s unassuming qualities makes him the last bowler to be scared of for the batsmen.

 

As we move forward, this World Cup is threatening to turn into an all-Asian challenge. The Lankans will await the winner of Pakistan vs West Indies. And going by the scenario at Dhaka, Pakistan certainly have an upper-hand. They would have definitely picked up some clues from Lanka’s performance to replicate against the Windies.

 

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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)